We should always have our thoughts tuned to heavenly things [Colossians 3:2]: …most of all meeting Jesus.
My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? John 14:2 NIV
I am reminded of Jesus’ encouraging words in John 14.
He actually began this discourse with His disciples—and us by extension—in the previous chapter talking to Peter about “following” Him. They would not be able to follow immediately, but would inevitably. In ways they have yet to appreciate, the disciples will follow in the Savior’s footsteps.
Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” John 13:36
Chapter 14 begins with this: You trust God? Trust me! And then Jesus shared with them—what I suspect was not in their theological forethoughts but— what became for all believers the single truth upon which all our hope rests. Jesus is leaving—yes—but for a very good reason: He is preparing our heavenly home for us and will be back to get us when the time is right. This truth is the cornerstone of our hope. [Titus 2:13]
There is an apartment… for all the king’s sons…
Jesus points out to them that the house of the Father, to which He returns, is wide enough to receive them all and many others with them. The image is derived from those immense oriental palaces in which there is an apartment, not only for the sovereign and for the heir to the throne, but for all the king’s sons, however numerous they may be. –Godet
What He said next could have been a question:
if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? [NIV]
Truth is the Foundation of Trust
He did not say, “if it were not true I would not have told you so.”
He didn’t use the double “not.” The logic behind this would be “Whatever I tell you is true.” But this is a defensive posture as if Jesus needed to defend His truthfulness. But I don’t see Jesus needing to prove His truthfulness .. He had no need to state something that after 3 years with them was obvious. He had never lied to them but told it straight; so, He already earned the right to begin His remarks with “Trust Me!” He doesn’t need to defend His relationship with them. They have learned enough to know by now Who He was and that He was trustworthy [John 6:68].
(There is always a Thomas who doesn’t quite understand what Jesus is saying and the Savior has to reassure him. Trust is based on Truth. You cannot have the former without the later. But Jesus does not only speak the truth. He embodies it! “I am the Truth” – John 14:6.)
Jesus never did say things to His disciples simply because it was something they wanted to hear. He was always brutally honest. Jesus didn’t filter truth into half truth with the less desirable details omitted. It was a season of deep grief that is soon to darken the sky of the disciples’ incomplete understanding. Speaking comfort to them is an understandable approach but never at the expense of preparing them for spiritual battle (Remember the beatitudes.) Jesus encouraging instruction to “trust Him” was as sufficient as it was wise to inspire hope.
Jesus is speaking hope because He is speaking truth, living truth we can anticipate with all the assurance that our faith confirms. [John 8:32]. Truth requires this discussion!! He wasn’t going to filter out the sufferings that come with discipleship. [Revelation 2:10] He wasn’t selling them a faithfulness that thought life was going to be all praise services. Jesus wasn’t selling them a hope that hides out from the sufferings awaiting Him. They needed to know what they needed to know to carry their own cross in following Him.
So what did He say, exactly? Scholars provide a variety of explanations. When Jesus told them “I go to prepare a place for you.” some add “because in my Father’s house are many rooms.” It suggests that Jesus is clarifying: I am preparing your room for you in my Father’s mansion. There are many rooms in my Father’s house. Trust me when I say that there is room for each of you and every believer!
But the best rendering is the simplest
My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, I would have told you.
That is, according to scholarship, to say: “If I were leaving you for good and you will never see me again, I would not have waited until this last moment to declare it to you!” …and I agree.
If we understand Jesus to be asking a question, as in the NIV translation, He would be saying: “You know me! If my leaving to prepare for your welcome were NOT true, do you think I would hide that from you?!?!” As another scholar concludes, “the sum of the argument [Jesus is saying]: I will not deceive you….”
Jesus’ trustworthiness and truthfulness were never in question. Jesus was sharing with His disciples a divine perspective on the events of the coming days. If His departure to prepare our accommodations to be with Him were not true, Jesus would have told us that! He wasn’t trying to paint a hopeful picture built on a false perception. He was revealing an exciting truth with them that the Father felt they were ready to hear and that they—and we—needed to hear!
Of course it brought hope. When God speaks, His words always do.